How to choose a CRM consultant

Negative experiences with your current Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system may have led you to the decision to replace it with a modern solution. Or maybe you never had one in place before but you feel that now is the time to implement one. Whatever your reasons, the next logical step is seeking professional help for a CRM migration or implementation. The question that arises with this step is: How do I choose a CRM consultant that is right for my company and my project?

What is the role of a CRM consultant?

To answer this question, it is helpful to understand what the job of a CRM consultant entails. So let us take a look at what CRM consultants do. Generally speaking, they are professionals that help companies select, implement and customize a CRM solution, and help the users get started with it. CRM consultants typically fall into two categories: functional and technical.

Functional consultants

Functional consultants are your main contacts and are responsible for ensuring that your new CRM solution comprises all functionalities your organization desires. To make sure that comes true, they compile all your business requirements and arrange that the chosen solution aligns with them. As the connectors between the company and the technical consultants, they are in constant communication with both sides and take care that your wishes are technically realized. Documenting the implementation process belongs to their tasks as well and so does the preparation and leading of training and workshops that introduce the users to their new CRM environment.

Technical consultants

Technical consultants analyze the technical requirements of the company’s system. They implement and customize the solution in a way that reflects the business requirements the functional consultant gathered. If necessary, they even develop additional features. They are also responsible for integrating the new system with existing ones in a way that workflows run smoothly.

CRM consultants can either work as freelancers on their own or in a team from a CRM consulting firm. In the first case, one consultant often fulfills the role of a functional and technical consultant.

Who can benefit from CRM consulting services?

Any company that plans on implementing a CRM system for the first time or replacing its current one can get professional assistance with that. It is advisable for organizations that...

… don’t have team members with the necessary skills to pull off a CRM migration or implementation.

… do have CRM experts on the team, but they are needed in customer projects and daily doings.

… have a lot of data to migrate.

… have sensitive data to migrate.

… want to be sure no data is getting lost.

… rely on a CRM system for their daily business and cannot do without one even temporarily.

The size and the industry of a company don’t play a role in the question of whether or not to hire professionals.

Benefits of CRM consulting services

Relying on CRM consultants for assistance and guidance through an implementation and/or migration process has many advantages for companies.

Strategic help

Your organization has likely never undergone such an endeavor before, but CRM consultants have — many times. And they can help you from the very beginning to come up with a strategy and create a roadmap. Because if you know what’s ahead, you can prepare yourself and your team a lot better.

Quicker realization

When you do something for the first time, it is only natural that it takes you longer than if you have done that operation repeatedly, especially if that operation is as complex as the setup of a new CRM system. With experienced consultants by your side, the realization of your project will go much faster. They understand what to do and how to do it and might even know some shortcuts to achieve the desired outcomes.

Product knowledge

Suppose that you have one or more colleagues that have done a CRM migration before and thus are generally familiar with the process. Have they worked with the same solution you are implementing now? Sure, there are similarities but there are also huge differences between, say, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce.

When you have already chosen your new product, you can select your CRM assistance accordingly; if not, the consultants you work with will only suggest solutions they know. In any case, you can be sure to have someone with expertise in the product on your project team.

From requirement to feature

A point that makes a great argument for CRM advisors: they help you “translate” your expectations and wishes into tangible functionalities of your solution.

Lower risk

You can migrate to a new CRM system by yourself, and nothing has to go wrong. But chances are high that something unforeseen and less pleasant will happen. Professional consultants know about potential pitfalls from former projects; consequently, mistakes that would cost you money and nerves can be avoided.

Continued support

When you contract a consulting firm or a single consultant, they are not only available for you during the project phase but usually offer their support beyond that as well. If you discover an issue when the new solution has long been up and running, or if you wish to implement further customizations, you can always call them.

CRM consultants are there to support your project. The money you invest will be well spent on a smooth and stress-free CRM migration.

Criteria for choosing the right CRM consultant

When it comes to finding the right CRM consultant, you have the option to choose either a freelance CRM consultant or a consulting firm. Both have their pros and cons.

However, if you plan to embark upon a bigger project, a consulting firm with several consultants might be suited better for you. On the one hand, you profit from the combined skills of multiple

experts, and on the other hand, your project never needs to be paused even if one consultant is sick or otherwise unavailable.

Whatever you prefer, certain criteria should be fulfilled.

Experience and expertise

If you have chosen a solution you want to go with, let’s say Microsoft Dynamics 365, make sure whoever assists you has done successful projects with that product before. It is of no use to you if a consulting firm has worked with Salesforce for decades but never implemented Dynamics 365.

Industry focus

Almost as important for CRM consultants as good knowledge about the product in question is an understanding of your industry. Manufacturers need to solve different issues with a CRM than professional services providers. Your advisors need to speak your language and understand industry-specific concerns and needs.

Tailored solutions

Even within the same industry, every organization is unique and there is no one-fits-all solution for everyone. That is why your consultancy experts need to be able to a) understand your individual needs and b) transfer them to your solution. A good indicator of that is if the consulting firm has developed its own CRM products or can show you tailored demos.

Flexibility

The approach and process of the implementation, as well as the degree of involvement of your company, should happen on your terms. Do you want to check the progress every day? Or do you prefer doing testing only after a sprint, that is a sub-project, is finished? The consultants should orient on what you want and not the other way around.

References

Browse the websites of potential consulting firms or consultants and look for references of former projects. That could be quotes from customers, or case studies describing how they approached a digitalization project.

Quality

Don’t be blinded by cheap offers, but look instead for proof of quality work. If you invest a little more now, it will likely prove worthwhile in the long run.

Circumstances

Clarify in advance if your consultants need to be in the same time zone as you or how big the time difference can be for you to work together productively. Don’t expect your CRM advisors to work constant nightshifts just so you can reach them at any time. Another aspect to think of in advance is language. And lastly, you should get along with your consultants; depending on the scope of the project you may be working with them for quite a while.

Conclusion

The number of service providers offering CRM consulting services on the market grows by the day, and you might be overwhelmed with the question of where to even start looking. We can help you with that, too. If you are already using Microsoft products in your organization or want to switch to Microsoft, we recommend you go with a certified Microsoft partner.

proMX, for example, is a Microsoft Solutions Partner for Business Applications specializing in Dynamics 365. We have been working with Dynamics 365 since its launch and have successfully completed many CRM migration projects for small and medium-sized companies and enterprises from various industries since.

We know how important it is to listen closely to our customers’ needs, wishes and concerns. Our CRM experts really get involved in their projects and our customers’ goals are our own goals.

Let us show you what we can do for you with an individual product demo tailored to your needs. Even if you are still unsure, about what you want, leave us a message and we’ll figure it out together.

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